What is your best advice to someone starting out at university?

As you start out at university, you stand at a crucial juncture in your lives. You must understand that your choice of course and career can affect the direction your life will take. So you must have a compelling reason to choose the course. Choose what appeals to you and if you have an aptitude for it. For example, I wanted to pursue a career which had a scientific inclination and I therefore opted for B.Sc. Zoology Hons.  followed by a post graduate program in Brewing technology.

Once your education begins, ensure that each and every incident at the university – formal as well as informal – is a learning experience. This will provide a strong foundation for your future. Never be intimidated by the newness of the subject or the environment, or with your fellow students. Be diligent about your studies. Remember there is no substitute to hard work. However, do make time for your hobbies – be it music, games or books. I was very studious at the university I attended but made time to pursue my interests.

What are the do’s and dont’s and include one top tip that can hold the new university student in good stead?

Life at any university has enriching experiences, so be open to all of them. First of all take your studies seriously. Informal lessons learnt at university are just as important. You will meet students from different backgrounds and upbringings. Learn to be accommodating. If you join a foreign university, take interest in the culture and traditions of the land, blend in and foster respect. Try and be as participative as you can at various University Forums.

Anything else about university education and interesting anecdotes/experiences that can benefit a first timer.

When I joined Ballarat University, Australia for a course in brewing and malting technology, I was the only woman student in my class as brewing was considered a male vocation. Instead of letting that affect me I tried to enjoy each second of my stay there. Because of the circumstances I found myself in I became extremely independent and learnt to survive in a man’s world. It did wonders to my self-esteem and my sense of independence soared. I knew I would not merely survive in a man’s world, but thrive. I also learnt one of the greatest lessons of my life there – that I should never feel subservient because of my gender because I was interacting with my male colleagues on equal terms.

-Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

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